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Page Two


It's decided - we cannot move on: the hypothermia, too many people without proper equipment, no money for a week's food. The next campground is too muddy - it's buried under water! A Marcher with arctic survival experience addresses us: we are in great danger. He's going to leave 'cause marchers may die. It's no longer a peace walk but a survival trek. This great lark has taken a very serious turn.

At this point, dear reader, four pages are missing from the journal. Why did the diarist fail to write on these days? Did something happen to him? Were the pages swept away in the storm? Well, let me try to fill in the gaps; its all coming back to me now. Yes, sitting in my closet I remember, I do remember... Lets see -

Like an enormous whale beached, unable to move, the Great Peace March lay helpless five days in the sand. One influential marcher, actor Robert Blake, declared that "anyone who continues on this thing is crazy." He feared loss of life. Well, no marcher died then and there. But the infant Peace March itself, only two weeks out of the womb, went to a watery grave - in the desert, of all places! Pro-Peace was bankrupt. David Mixner, the guy who started the whole thing, plopped down in a helicopter and told us it was over. "Go home!"

So many drove off in cars and vans loaded with gear. "The repo man is coming to take away all our vehicles, our kitchen and even our porta-potties!" So many went off in Greyhound buses. "We'll be stranded in the desert with not one support vehicle!" The Peace March was no longer great but smaller perhaps by 700 people.

The glittery, star-studded walk, the traveling Holiday Inn, perished in the desert. But the Peace March did not die. The whale lived, and, you might say, healthier than before. The marchers themselves took complete charge.

That's how I remember it. But here are more pages from the journal:


I arise with the wake-up gong to a stunning sunrise in orange. But in no time it's raining! And yet we march. The Peace March is moving again! All the way to Washington, D.C.? Well, let's try to make it ten miles to Barstow. As we walk into that town folks throw kisses at us - literally: Hershey chocolate kisses. At camp, a caravan from Claremont awaits us with tons of packaged food plus a hot Indian meal: curried rice and dhal. But my dear Rosalind did not walk into Barstow with me. She left the March yesterday. Left it for good. Went half a world away. It's turned out to be a far, far different Walk than the one she signed on for.


We all gather at a church, an Afro-American church way up a winding road on a Barstow hill.

Barstow Festival

A choir of children sings for us. The mayor of town welcomes us. Fantastic gathering!

Its me, folks, breaking in again - me, the guy in the closet. I have to tell you that ELEVEN PAGES now are missing from this journal, all from Barstow. Again I must, as best I can, try to fill in a bit for our negligent journalist. Lets see...

Just one day's walk out of Stoddard Wells and the great monster is immobile again - eleven days comatose in Barstow! Or so it seemed. True, the March to all outward appearances did not move an inch. But inwardly, in the desert, a great sea change occurred. The monster revealed itself at last in all its glory: the beast was not a whale at all, but a phoenix bird! Out of feverish organization, from the fires of endless meetings, from its own ashes, arose a wild fowl fresh and new. On March 28th the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, flags flying, walked out of Barstow.

A couple of things from Barstow are here after all, readers! Looks like our friend with the journal - sometime in those eleven days in town - wrote a poem and a letter home:

Dear Folks Back Home,

What's it like on the Great Peace March? Freezing, miserable! Up to our ankles in mud as we stand shivering in the chow line. My cup of soup is half-and-half: hot pea and cold rain. My pizza is sprinkled not with grated cheese, but with bits of ice, chunks of hail! A fierce wind, fifty mph, blows nasty sand in my mouth. Twelve cases of hypothermia - twelve Peace Marchers treated with hot soup, hot food, warm bodies - naked in sleeping bags with other naked bodies to warm, to save lives.

What's it like on the Great Peace March? Hot, happy! Sweltering sun for miles and miles as we walk singing our hearts out. Sun screen and sun visors and sunglasses. Heavenly nights! The million grains of sand in our eyes transposed to a billion brilliant stars in our eyes. Five hundred peace marchers holding hands in a circle round as the moon. Two lovers touching lips in a yellow tent cocoon.

Just Like Rabbits!

What's it like on the Great Peace March? Sad, lonely! My walking companion with whom I laughed and talked and sang, my survival partner who helped me with my laundry and tent, my body's delight who shared my sleeping bag - my soul mate is gone! She left the March. But hundreds of warm, wonderful, attractive, talented women remain. A guy could fall in love ten times a day here. Already I'm getting sweet on someone.

Whats it like on the Great Peace March? Elation, joy! Children run out of class to greet us. Old folks in nursing homes roll out on wheelchairs to meet us. Entire towns adopt us. Donations we get, love and kisses. I love every second of this great adventure. How I wish it could go on forever.

But please write soon, for the greatest joy on the Great Peace March is simply a letter from home.

I also found a smaller poem he wrote in Barstow, along with some notes regarding it. These were pretty badly torn, but here they are:

"I did it to kick myself in the behind - to get me off my butt and do some of the dirty work in camp. (So many fine people were setting good examples.) My work was exclusively mental labor - media, fundraising, community outreach and all. What is the most awful job in camp? Ah, I've got it! I walked around town writing a poem in my head. Soon as I jotted it down I found Guy Colwell in a Barstow laundromat. I asked him to do a drawing for my little poem. In ten seconds he handed me an illustration and in five seconds I was next door at the copy shop. That night, in the dark, I attached a copy of poem and drawing to each door of all thirty porta-potties. The Gordon/Colwell collaboration inspired many people to volunteer for porta-pottie duty. And I cleaned the duty - the doodoo - from our portable toilets all across the country."

Porta-pottie Poets come here not to sit and think.
(I bet you're sure I'm going to end this line with stink.)
No. We sit for inspiration, for our goal, you see,
Is to attain salvation, to emulate Gandhi.

Drawing by Guy Colwell

Mahatma was a lawyer, a statesman and a seer.
Yet the mean, lowest toilet-bowl cleaner was his peer.
So be a great soul like Gandhi - hey, Tom, Sue, and Gus!
Join Porta-pottie Poets: come clean this john with us.